"A Maid Of The Foothills"

'Missing Links In The Story Of Reconstruction'
by J.W. Daniel(1)

Review by Ed Sanders

Book cover
Scan of introduction from book
Cover of the 2000 reprint
(artwork by Eve Marie Lynch)
Publisher's introduction(2)

"A Maid Of The Foothills" was published in 1905 by the author J.W. Daniel, brother of the Rev. W. W. Daniel, DD, President of Columbia College, SC. (to whom the book is dedicated). The book is a purely fictional account of the Reconstruction Era in the Piedmont District (now Anderson County, SC). One of the characters in the book is "Mance Holley" a veiled reference to Manse Jolly. The book contains many of the so-called 'exploits' of Manse which may or may not be based on actual events. From my own research I believe most of the 'exploits' in the book are based on the legend and myth built up around Manse Jolly beginning shortly after his death in 1869 at the age of 29. Reliable and documented sources for information about Manse are few and far between.

What is surprising to me is that this book has been a "source" for many articles and monographs about Manse Jolly. I have seen supposedly historical accounts that reference Maid Of The Foothills in the footnotes as the source of information! Mance Holley? - I wonder what part of the word 'fiction' these writers don't understand? This would be akin to my writing a historical article or essay on the Civil War and quoting the fiction novel Killer Angels (by Michael Shaara) as my factual source. Now Killer Angels falls into the 'historical fiction' category of literature. Good historical fiction like the Civil War novels by Michael and Jeff Shaara are based on actual persons and events with dialogue and incidents 'invented' by the authors. Unfortunately Maid Of The Foothills falls out of that category and in my opinion should be classified as 'historical speculation'. It certainly should not appear in footnotes as a source unless specifically identified as fiction.

I will admit that the book is interesting and the author makes a lot of witty and entertaining dialogue. Read the book but keep in mind that it is a work of pure fiction. A better fictional account by an author who has spent many years researching the life and times of Manse Jolly is Manse: One Mans War by Wilton Earle.

Those who are interested in the the facts about Manse Jolly should consult The South Carolina Upcountry: Historical and Biographical Sketches (Vol. 2, 1982) by Elmer Don Herd, former history professor at Lander College, SC. The chapter on Manse Jolly "Unreconstructed Rebel" is about 50 pages of well researched material. I consider it to be the most historically accurate account available.

(1) Copyright (c) 1905 by J. W. Daniel
(2) The publisher of Dally Classic Books states "call it what you may - I think this is a deliberate attempt by a few to alter history because things did not happen the way they think they should have". This is a reference to the many books portraying the Reconstruction Era in South Carolina but in my opinion justly fits the Maid Of The Foothills book!

* For further information visit the www.SandersWeb.net Manse Jolly page.